I’m in Jersey with a friend for the weekend and took the opportunity to go to St. Mary of the Pines for Mass once again spending time reflecting on the beautiful Crucifix. Remembering and reflecting on the experience in July of being loved, of accepting God’s Love for me. Since that moment there’s a deep sense of peace. A peace affirmed at the Charismatic Renewal Conference in August, and again while in Houston.
While looking at the Crucifix in the Church I remembered that while on the Cross Jesus cried out, “My God! My God! Why have you abandoned me?” We hear this in the readings during Lent, particularly clearly on Good Friday. Sometimes we hear things and they don’t really register in our being. On this particular morning this registered deeply in my being. Jesus asked the Father why he’d been abandoned by Him. Hang with me here.
My very first trip to Lancaster for a big quilt show proved to be something of a direction changing moment. As I stood in front of the Best of Show quilt, beautiful, amazing detail and workmanship I had an important realization, it wasn’t perfect. I noticed some flaws in the machine quilting. And before you ask no I didn’t point it out to anyone, in part because I was by myself, and in part because it really didn’t matter. This Best of Show quilt had some “imperfections” that added character that didn’t detract from the overall look of the quilt. And what ran through this quilters head? “If she can do this so can I!” These quirky flaws are part of the work, they add character and beauty, most people don’t even notice them.
Jesus is crying out, “My God! My God! Why have you abandoned me?” and I realized that in that moment that the Father NEVER abandoned the Son, not even in that moment on the Cross. When Jesus went into the desert to fast and pray for forty days prior to the beginning of his earthly ministry God was right there with Him. In that moment of full, public vulnerability our Father was right there, is right there. Our Jesus experienced the same feelings of abandonment by God, but the reality is so very different. In the midst of our struggles God doesn’t abandon us. Not even for a nanosecond.
The Father Never Abandoned the Son
Just as the Father is right there with His son on the Cross, He is with us when we are experiencing a deep sense of abandonment, when we are experiencing a deep vulnerability, when our life seems like a hot mess or worse. God is with us when we are most vulnerable. We can like Jesus cry out to God asking why He abandoned us, not simply because God can “take” it but because even in the midst of great pain, angst and anxiety He is right there with us.
That quilter who won Best of Show in Lancaster showed me many things including a vulnerability in making her work public, and opening herself up to the sometimes not-so-kind, jealousy-driven comments of quilters. She just did her work and probably experienced great self-doubt along the way, the one that is stung by the not-so-kind comments. I know this quilter went on to win more ribbons for her quilts.
And I heard Jesus crying out in vulnerable abandonment to the Father. Jesus did nothing leading up to this moment on the Cross to prevent it from happening. He allowed this to happen, he shared with us the experience of woundedness, hurt, pain, agony. He showed us that crying out to God is what we are meant to do in these experiences.
I am grateful for the opportunity to be truly vulnerable with God over the winter. It was so very hard however the gifts that have come from this are so beautiful and sweet. These words feel trite, incomplete, lacking however they are the best words in this moment. Quilters you are worth the difficult times that lead you to your best work, the unexpected work. Jesus was resurrected two days later.
Father may I ever be vulnerable before you.